Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Golan Heights & Hermon Mount

Skiing season in Hermon:

The mount Hermon Ski resort is open for skiing and snowboarding & tubing. The Hermon mount is the only Ski resort in Israel and is a home for family fun. The Hermon is a vacation spot that can be enjoyed all year round. It is spread over an area of 5000 Dunams, at heights of between 1,600 – 2,040 meters above sea level.

Family Fun at the Hermon Ski Site
During the winter, the lower slopes are used for skiing and snowboarding,. Many visitors come to see the fabulous view, to enjoy and play in the snow, use the cable cars to climb up the mountain and to enjoy the various sports and activities that can be found at the site such as sledding.

If you want to stay close to the action, the Narkis Boutique Hotel, in the northern Golan Heights, is adjacent to Mount Hermon. It boasts stunning views and is a short distance from the Golan’s tourist attractions.

During the long summer months under the wonderful weather conditions of the high mountains, the site offers a variety of activities: take the cable car to visit the HaMa’apil summit including guided summer tours with introduction to the flora and fauna in the region, tours and explanations of the battle on Mount Hermon “The eyes of the state.” In addition you can enjoy the scenery of Mount Hermon by a ride on the “Extreme” mountain slides.

Main Sites:

* Qatzrin - the largest town

* Gamla - a site in the lower Golan that was a Jewish stronghold from 87 BCE until it fell to the Romans in 67 CE, nature reserve and archaeological site

* Nimrod Castle - a magnificently-located crusader castle located above the Sea of Galilee

* The Golan Heights is the wettest area in the region. There are many waterfalls including the Gamla, Sa`ar and the Banias waterfalls.

* It is especially recommended to visit in spring, when the ground is covered with wildflowers.

* Mount Hermon (2284m), in the northernmost point of the Golan Heights. There is a cable car going up the mountain - in the summer you can enjoy a breathtaking scenery and in the winter you can ski.

* Quneitra is a ghost town, evacuated during the 1967 war and left in the no-man's-land ever since. Thoroughly wrecked not only in 1967 but in the subsequent 1973 conflict as well, from the Israeli side the area can only be viewed from designated viewpoints set up along the border road, as it's just across the de-facto line of control. However, from Syria, the area can be visited with a permit from the relevant military office in Damascus, just above the Maliki garden on Sharia al-Jala (bring your passport). An official guide escorts all visitors (free of charge, but a tip is appropriate after the tour).

* Banias - This national park follows the Banias stream, and includes some easy and fairly short hiking trails that pass by old water mills, vigorous rapids, and the ruins of a temple to the god Pan.

* Majdal Shams - a Druze village. Nearby is the Shouting Hill where villagers communicate with their relatives in Syria.

* There are interesting hiking courses throughout the Golan. Breichat ha-meshushum (Hexagon pool) is a pool with natural hexagonal volcanic tiling. Yahudia wadi and Ein Zivan wadi are also popular hiking courses.

Golan Wineries

When you are planning to do some touring up in the Golan it is worth including a visit to some of the vineyards that have been planted in the volcanic soil that is unique to this area in Israel and learn about how grapes are grown and harvested. Follow up with a visit to a winery to learn about how wine is made. If you are really into wine I am happy to arrange a wine tour for you.

I think it’s fair to say that the Golan Heights winery founded in 1983 in the town of Katzrin, high up on the Golan Heights changed the world’s impression of Israeli wines and placed Israel firmly on the international wine map. Unique to Israel, the winery is owned by 4 kibbutzim and 4 moshavim. They manage 16 vineyards on the Golan (and one in the Upper Galillee), from Geshur and Nov which rise above the Sea of Galilee to Odem and El Rom below the snow-capped Mount Hermon, processing 6,000 tons of grapes and producing 6 million bottles of wine annually at 3 levels: Golan, Gamla and Yarden. They are also the parent of Galil Mountain Winery with Kibbutz Yiron.

I can arrange a tour of the facility including a visit to the oak barrel cellar, viewing of the bottling line (when in operation) and of course wine tasting.

Pelter Winery
Tal Pelter established his boutique winery in 2002, after studying enology in Australia, on the grounds of the family farm in Moshav Zofit near Kfar Saba where he produced four vintages of wine. During the summer of 2005 the winery was transferred to Kibbutz Ein Zivan adjacent to Merom Golan and resulted in a production of approximately 24,000 bottles. Pelter produces a sparkling wine in the traditional way, as well as 3 white wines, a Sauvignon Blanc, an unwooded Chardonnay and a Gewurztraminer, a first of this varietal for Pelter, described as “Sweet peach, liche, melon, citrus on a lively acidic background”. He also produces a series of red wines at two levels from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Shiraz grapes grown on the Golan Heights and the hills of Jerusalem.

At the end of August 2005, Pelter supervised the planting of a new vineyard on the Golan, that he calls Vineyard of the Wind with a view of Mount Bental and the Hermon, 35 dunams (8.75 acres) of vines. Pelter is pursuing his dream of a quality winery on the Golan. I can arrange a visit to the facility for serious wine afficionados.

There are other small wineries on the Golan. In the midst of an ancient oak forest at Odem is the Odem Mountain Winery. Next to a natural spring is the Bazelet HaGolan winery and not far, the Assaf winery. Farther south you’ll find the Bashan Organic Winery and the Chateau Golan Winery. For a complete and up-to-date overview of the wine industry in Israel, I recommend Rogov’s Guide to Israeli Wines available at bookstores and the Internet.

You might also like to read:

Galilee & Upper Galilee

The Coastal Plain

Netanya in Pictures


West Galilee

Tel Aviv - Jaffa

The Negev

For the First Time the Main Road of Jerusalem, from 1,500 Years Ago, is Exposed

Holy Sites For Christians in Israel

1,800 Years Old High-Level Aqueduct of Jerusalem Exposed Next to Jaffa Gate in the Old City

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